Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Official Fan Guide To Navigating Baseball Season Without Baseball

We all miss baseball during the offseason, but what we’re experiencing now is something entirely different. Of course, the absence of baseball is nowhere close to being the most important issue we’re facing right now, but that doesn’t make it any less painful to experience what should be opening day with 30 empty major league stadiums. To give you some baseball-related ideas of how to maintain your sanity during this unprecedented time, Aaron Plotsky (@A_a_ron87), Ryan Dalton (@rdalton515), and myself have decided to give you all a few ways to get your baseball fix until we can return to some semblance of normalcy.

Holden: Read “The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball”

The nerds have taken over baseball, and you’re sick of it. Why do these folks all hate sacrifice bunts? How do RBIs not matter when driving in runs is what allows your team to win? MLB teams are clearly buying into this new school of thought, so there must be something to it, right?

During this unprecedented absence of baseball, you can utilize the extra downtime to gain a better understanding of what all this analytics nonsense is about, and all you need to get started is “The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball”. The concept of The Book (and analytics in general) is rather simple: The goal is to look at historical data and determine what works, and what doesn’t. Is it better to have a runner on first and zero outs, or a runner on second with one out? Should you buy into the rookie who has set the world on fire during his first three weeks in the majors? We often struggle internally with these decisions while watching baseball games in real-time, but by looking at past results, we can get a good idea of what strategy is most likely to succeed, even if those strategies may not line up with conventional wisdom.

By reading The Book, you’ll learn the ins and outs of data-driven baseball strategy. You’ll find out why teams are doing things differently than they have in the past. Most importantly, you’ll find answers to a number of questions you’ve always had, and other questions that you never even thought to ask.

Once you’ve finished The Book, you’ll have a different understanding of baseball. Armed with your newfound skillset, you’ll be able to venture behind enemy lines. You’ll engage in meaningful, objective analysis and deep discussions on how Fernando Tatis Jr. is due for some offensive regression and why Eric Hosmer is terrible at baseball even though he had 99 RBIs last season. You’ll discuss the merits and drawbacks of the new three-batter rule, and what it means for LOOGYs like Jerry Blevins.

Ultimately, you don’t need analytics to enjoy baseball. It’s a beautiful game that suits old-school and new-school fans alike. The purpose of analytics isn’t to change baseball, but rather to provide an objective lens through which you can examine strategy, player evaluation, and in-game decision making. Still, don’t be surprised if a better understanding of data-driven analysis greatly enhances your enjoyment of the game. That’s exactly what happened for me.

Aaron: Browse MLB’s New Multimedia Search Website

For years, MLB’s video archive was an impossible labyrinth to navigate or find exactly what you were looking for. But now, MLB has released a new, updated version of the multimedia video site. So, what does the site allow you to do? Well, let’s run through an example.

You’re at home, gazing at the scoreboard on Baseball Savant, and all the schedule games say CANCELED in big red letters. Your heart immediately drops, because reality is finally sinking in. No baseball for at least two weeks (and most likely much longer). To cheer yourself up, you want to watch videos of your favorite pitcher making hitters look stupid, watch your favorite hitter hit majestic homers into the night, and/or watch memorable moments of your favorite team. Now that process is as easy as striking Chris Davis out on an 0-2 slider in the dirt!

The website has tons of filters to find whatever want and is the perfect fix for the Coronavirus blues.

Ryan: Dive into the great collection of baseball movies.

Baseball is one of America’s oldest and great pastimes, so naturally, throughout the years there’s been countless movies made with a plot centered around baseball. Moneyball, 42, Hardball, The Sandlot, are just a few examples, and if I didn’t name your all-time favorite I sincerely apologize. But baseball has been glorified in pop culture since the days of underhand pitching and 8-ball walks. There are plenty of great ones out there, and nothing brings back the euphoria of our great game in times like this than watching any one of the classic movies that some of us hold so dearly. The best part about it is since there have been movies coming out for so long, a wide variety of different eras of baseball are covered. So why not relive the glory days of the steroid era? Or how about going all the way back to the depression era where so many legends were made? A lot of us, including me, have a nostalgic connection to these movies. Some of the first movies I ever watched were baseball movies. So back to the topic of reliving the glory days, these movies will help with accomplishing that. 

Below I’ve made a guide to every baseball movie on certain streaming platforms

Netflix: Battered Bastards of Baseball, Major League 2, American Masters: Ted Williams, Benchwarmers 2, Brampton’s Own

Hulu: Hardball, Major League (1 and 2), Benchwarmers, 61, Moneyball, Bad News Bears (all 3), For the Love of the Game, The Babe, Undrafted, Field of Dreams

Amazon Prime: 42, Moneyball, Field of Dreams, Million Dollar Arm, The Sandlot, Bull Durham, Eight Men Out, Bad News Bears (all 3), Fever Pitch, Rookie of the Year, Major League (1 and 2), Angels in the Outfield, Bang The Drum Slowly (not about the Astros), *various others 

Look, I get it. Why would I watch old baseball movies if I can rewatch The Office for the sixth time? I get it, there’s a lot of movies and TV series out there, but this is the way to go if you’re looking to fill that void of baseball not being there. For nostalgia purposes and for fulfillment of the loss of America’s pastime, some of these great motion pictures can be what really helps hold you over until we get it all back.

Aaron: Play MLB The Show 20 Until Your Eyes Hurt

It would be weird to say that it’s “perfect timing” for a video game to drop when the entire reason we’re writing this is that there’s a global pandemic and the MLB season has been suspended, but I’m going to say it anyway: The Show 20 dropped at the perfect time.

Video games take the mind off of reality, and a new baseball game is a perfect distraction. What’s better than – when you’re marooned in your home with no sport to watch – than turning on your PS4 (if you have one), hitting play, and looking at all the new players, added content, and rankings? Not only that, but the new Show has added online custom leagues to battle your friends for a World Series Championship.

Holden Phillips

Padres contributor and various sabermetric-related topics. Follow on twitter @HoldenPhillips7